New World Little Gardens

kale pattern
kale

Kale

Brassica oleracea var. acephala

This ‘Red Russian' kale is a stalwart of the winter vege garden, producing its curly edible leaves even in cold weather. Add it to soups, stews or stir-fries to get your 5+ a day.

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Getting your Little Garden started

  • Put the soil tablet on a saucer and pour 50ml of water over it.
  • Put on gloves and mix the water into the soil with your hands to make a wet mixture. Watch the soil expand.
  • Use most of your soil to fill up the pot to around 2cm below the top.
  • Now place your seed mat on top of the soil (take care not to press down too hard).
  • Now use the rest of your soil mixture to cover the seed mat.
  • Remember to wash your hands when you’re done!

How to keep your Little Garden healthy

  • Place the pot on a clean saucer in a place with enough light, but not directly in the sun.
  • Check the soil in the morning, and before bed. If the soil feels dry and crumbly, pour a small amount of clean water over the surface.
  • Within 1 week you should see a little plant appear from the soil. That means the seeds have germinated and will be ready soon to move into a bigger pot or garden.
  • If more than one little plant grows, you can thin your kale seedling by choosing the strongest-looking one and removing the others. You can eat the picked seedlings like microgreens.

When your seedling is ready to go in the garden

  • When the kale is about as tall as your finger (in about 3 weeks), it’s ready to shift into the garden or pot.
  • Get your kale used to life outside: You can harden off your kale seedling by putting it in a warm and sheltered spot for 1-2 hours a day and return inside for the night. Do this for 4-5 days, leaving it outside for a little longer each day before you shift it out into the garden forever.

Planting best practice

  • Kale can grow outside almost all year round. It loves moist, rich soil with good drainage, but will grow almost anywhere.
  • Kale will grow in full sun, but it can cope with partial sun and appreciates some shade in the middle of summer. It will be fine in a pot too, provided you keep it moist.

Look after your plant while it’s growing

  • Kale will produce sweeter, crisper leaves if you give it enough water: water deeply every three or four days, more often in pots or over hot periods and less often if it’s raining a lot.
  • If the plants dry out, the leaves can become bitter and tough.
  • If you grow your kale in cold weather, the stems will turn from dark green to reddish-purple.

Harvest time

  • After approximately 8 weeks kale should be ready to harvest.
  • Harvest the leaves one by one and the plant will keep producing for months.

Watch out

  • Slugs and snails will nibble on young plants, so create your own pest protection, lay out bait or pick off these slimy pests.
  • In warmer weather, keep an eye out for the Cabbage White Butterfly: it will lay eggs on your kale, and the hungry caterpillars will munch your plant to the ground. If you spot White Cabbage Butterflies, protect your plants with an insect mesh (an old net curtain is ideal for this!)

Kale in your gardens